The American Society of Anesthesiologists has a loyal base of members who regularly attend its largest annual conference. Like many organizations, ASA had conducted its annual meeting the same way for years, with a keynote session, breakout sessions, a president’s reception, and an exhibit hall.
“It didn’t change from year to year,” said ASA CEO Paul Pomerantz, FACHE. “The pandemic accelerated change.”
ASA wanted to better understand its members’ changing expectations and needs–especially in light of the pandemic–so it could continue to grow its market share and cultivate a meeting experience that engages all its target audiences.
Avenue M conducted in-depth research–including interviews with ASA’s current and past meeting attendees–to determine their overall satisfaction with its in-person meeting and virtual experience. They examined travel and other institutional barriers for attending the meeting, taking into account shifts related to the pandemic, and assessed participants’ satisfaction with the learning formats, virtual networking, and engagement opportunities.
Notably, Avenue M also tracked ASA’s annual meeting net promoter score (NPS) to gauge attendees’ likelihood to recommend the meeting to others, which helped the group assess its strengths and weaknesses as an organization and how it compares with its peers across the medical society landscape.
Avenue M’s detailed investigation provided key insights into ASA’s member segments so it could respond with more tailored offerings for members–at every stage of their careers–and assess their learning style preferences and the kinds of meeting experiences they are looking for.
ASA has a very diverse membership with different priorities. Residents and medical students come to the meeting for networking and to look for residency programs or job opportunities. Early career attendees are looking at the employment landscape and for networking opportunities. And academics are looking to present papers and advance their academic credentials.
Through its work with Avenue M, ASA has been able to “understand how different groups are looking at the value of the annual meeting, which is very different from what we thought the value was,” Pomerantz said. People want to be able to learn continuously online, when they want, and at their own pace.
“Avenue M has helped us understand those preferences,” Pomerantz said. “We need to pay much more attention to what people want. If you don’t have a meeting that is organized to meet the new expectations of learners, if you’re still relying on traditional means of learning, you’re going to lose out to an audience that’s becoming used to very different types of experiences.”
ASA’s 2022 annual meeting in October had a strong in-person attendance. The meeting’s virtual piece was relatively small–less than 10 percent, which Pomerantz attributes to designing an experience-focused meeting with more networking and workshop options that enticed people to be there in person.
“If you want people to come, they have to have a reason to come, otherwise they choose a virtual option,” Pomerantz said.
In an environment perhaps forever changed by the pandemic, Avenue M’s research provided ASA with clarity on the best way to serve its members and stakeholders comprehensively, realizing they have different objectives, values, and needs.
“Avenue M is a really top flight research organization,” Pomerantz said.